Friday, 12 May 2017

National Mental Health Awareness Week

I hadn't been aware until earlier in the week that this is National Mental Health Awareness Week.  There seem to be so many special event days/weeks/months/years that I rarely know which ones happen to be occurring.  Indeed, until I just searched, I had no idea that it is currently also National Doughnut Week as well as National Walking Month

Well, I don't have much to say about doughnuts, but I've long been aware of issues around mental health since I was diagnosed with depression as an undergraduate around 20 years ago, and having probably suffered from it for a few years prior to diagnosis.  Even when I realised that there was something wrong, I put off going to the doctor for fear of the stigma.  In the end, I went on antidepressants for a few years and had a small amount of talking therapy.  I suppose that combination must have worked to a reasonable extent as I did get over it, though when the depression was at its worst it didn't seem like I ever could or would get past it.  

More recently, problems with depression and anxiety have returned and hopefully this time I was quicker in seeking help.  Certainly I don't worry about being stigmatised for having mental health problems any more, and have no qualms about writing a public blog post about it.  This time I am on antidepressants again (different ones to last time) and have had some Cognitive Behaviour Therapy sessions.  I've even been taking physical exercise as a therapy, which is something my 20-year-old self would probably not have done.  It has proved quite helpful as one component of trying to keep good mental health.  My partner suggested I sign up for a 21-day yoga challenge that was being run by a yoga place in Guildford.  I thought "why not?" and am now one week through it.  The place is called Red Hot Yoga and their thing is that their sessions take part in a hot room.  It can be pretty gruelling, but I generally do feel positive after each session.  I could do without some of the more spiritual aspects of it, but mostly the teachers don't belabour that part too much.  To get myself through it, I just think of the Peppa Pig episode in which Daddy Pig seeks to regain his world puddle-jumping record, where he takes a kind of yogic approach.  If you cannot instantly recall most Peppa Pig episodes, then here is the scene for your enjoyment:

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

A Euratom Update

As we (in the UK) continue in a period of much uncertainty about the future for our relationship with the rest of the European Union, a report appeared today from the Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee to urge the government to reconsider the effects that withdrawing from the Euroatom treaty and to try to ensure we remain in deed if not in word, in it or an analogous treaty.  Full details here

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Walter Greiner 1935 - 2016

I don't think I posted anything here last year noting the death of Walter Greiner.  He was a major figure in nuclear physics in all the time I've been doing it, and someone closely related to people I have had close links with research-wise, though I only actually bumped into him a couple of times that I remember.  

Anyway, I notice that the European Physical Society posted an obituary of him earlier this month, so rather than attempt to write a potted biography of someone I knew mostly through second-hand observations,  I direct interested readers to the EPS obituary.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Machiavellian spot-the-difference

This is somewhat off-topic, but I wonder if readers have ever noticed the similarity in appearance between Florentine politico Machiavelli, whose most famous work advocated acting immorally if it achieves the desired political ends, and contemporary politician Jeremy Hunt, who has governmental responsibility for looking after the NHS?


Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Euroschool on Exotic Beams

I notice that the latest in the series of Euroschools on Exotic Beams is open for registration.  It is a summer school intended for PhD students and young researchers working on nuclear physics involving radioactive ion beams.  If you are such a person reading this, then follow the link above to have a look and consider applying to attend.  There are a great range of lecturers covering experimental and theoretical aspects, and spending a few days in Normandy in late summer can't be the worst thing to do.  

The Euroschool series has a great history of publishing the lecture notes and making them freely available.  If you follow the link above you can easily find them.  They are a great resource for graduate level nuclear physics study, covering a very broad range of topics.  It also includes one instance of my friend and colleague Wilton Catford citing a certain R. A. Zimmerman.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Ludvig Faddeev (1934 – 2017)

I saw from a friend's Facebook post that Ludvig Faddeev, known to me for his eponymous equations, died a couple of days ago.

Faddeev was a mathematician and physicist whose work is of great importance in few-body nuclear physics.  In particular, he developed a method for solving the quantum three-body problem that can be used when studying, e.g the triton or 3He, but also weakly-bound nuclei in which there is 2-neutron halo along with a strongly-bound core, such as 11Li. 

At this point I have to confess that I have never tried solving the Faddeev equation myself, though this blog post is tempting me to do so.  If someone reading would like to write a quick primer, then I'd be more than happy to post it here.